In his new Greater Good essay, Stephen G. Post offers six simple practices for becoming more altruistic—practices to help you reap the health benefits of helping others.
At the top of his list: “Keep a journal about the large and small ways you are giving to people right now.” This seems simple enough, but it can be hard to find time to actually do it. So we’re offering a quick and easy way to get started.
Click here to share something you’ve done this week to help someone else.
No example is too small: That friendly smile or shared snack may have seemed trivial to you, but it could have made a huge difference in someone else’s day.
Recording your nuggets of generosity helps you focus on all you’re currently doing to help others. That way, altruistic acts seem like an extension of who you already are rather than a new chore for your To Do list. And don’t hold back: Research suggests that giving is contagious. The examples you provide can inspire others—including your kids—to their own acts of kindness.
I gave an apple to a hungry co-worker… even though I’d been saving it all day for my late-afternoon snack. It was sweeter as a gift!
Jason Marsh | 1:23 pm, March 15, 2011 | Link
And I can’t tell you how much appreciated it,
Jason! I thought I was going to keel over…
Susan Fassberg | 4:01 pm, March 15, 2011 | Link
I am bringing fruit for my coworkers most days when I go to my two-day per week job. At least they one of their three-to-five produce servings daily.
Joan | 3:05 pm, March 16, 2011 | Link
The girl in front of me at the supermarket was short a
dollar and had to put back a Toblerone bar, so I just
bought it for her. Though, I do have to say, it took me
a minute or two to decide to do this. I believe there’s
some research on being indecisive or ambivalent about
your good deed taking away the benefits. :( Does
anyone remember who did that research??
Alas, I don’t know why I didn’t immediately do it. I
tossed it to her just as she was leaving. She seemed
extremely grateful, though.
Genevieve Douglass | 10:48 am, March 18, 2011 | Link
@Genevieve, maybe you hesitated because a candy bar is more of a luxury item. If she was short a buck for a loaf of bread, I think you would have responded without hesitation:)
Joan | 5:22 pm, March 18, 2011 | Link
I bought a busker on the street a coffee of his choice. He seemed to really appreciate it. I even got to hear some cool stories of his afterwards.
Kevin | 8:26 am, March 21, 2011 | Link
I spoke out about Publishers Billing Exchange-
an organization that sends out notices that look like
bills - this one said my subscription to the Nation was
about to expire and to send Publishers Billing Exchange money. It is a scam- using the good intentions I have towards the Nation to make a buck.
The Nation has an announcement in the latest issue
warning subscribers to not fall for this trap. First, I
complained to PBE. Then I called the Nation and
let them know what was happening. I will now send
a letter to the Nation publishers and see if they are
taking legal action against this fraud.
Ellen Greenlaw | 11:05 am, March 21, 2011 | Link
I sent flowers today to a friend who is having a hard time dealing with the death of her mother. She loves flowers and I know she will understand what I mean by them and be cheered a little bit by them.
Benedetta | 9:32 am, March 23, 2011 | Link
While my work as a therapist is helping people every day, there are sometimes moments when a profound connection is made, by the person for & about themselves and between us as human beings. That’s why I do this work.
JAnn | 4:48 pm, March 23, 2011 | Link
Gave money to family members for a snack we were all indulging in.
MK | 7:25 pm, June 16, 2011 | Link
On a call with someone, when he said how much he
appreciated me working through an issue, I pointed
out that he was the one that worked through his
own solution, I had been his witness. He was very
pleased with the acknowledgment and the sense of
self efficacy he felt through hearing that.
Mair ALight | 1:39 pm, September 1, 2011 | Link
I have @20.00 to a homeless person. He was very surprise that I have him that amount of money and decided to ask me if I would want my change back from him after he gets his coffee.. I smiled and told him that I didn’t need it.
Meripng | 6:37 am, October 3, 2011 | Link
I smile to every human being I encounter while I am going in
car to my work.
Monil | 10:14 pm, December 25, 2011 | Link
I shared some life experiences of various ethical
growth matters and choices with a group, that I am
slowly developing trust. It was scary, but rewarding.
Jim | 4:39 pm, January 5, 2012 | Link
When I use a change machine to get quarters I always
leave one in the chute. Just thinking about
someone’s delight at “being lucky” makes me happy.
Jessica | 11:25 am, March 20, 2012 | Link
I helped a bereaved colleague find the info she needed about leave from work to travel from Australia to the UK for the funeral of her grandma. Helping feels good.
Maria Thornton | 4:43 pm, November 29, 2012 | Link